2024 Women of the Year Awards: Change maker – Runner-up Sonia Strobel

Sonia Strobel, co-founder and CEO of Skipper Otto, is a runner-up of the Change maker category of the 2024 Women of the Year Awards


Sonia Strobel
Co-founder and CEO, Skipper Otto

Since 2008, Sonia Strobel, the co-founder and CEO of Vancouver-based Skipper Otto, has been on a mission to close the gap between Canadian fishing families and consumers.

Strobel was a high school teacher before she married into a fishing family 20 years ago. “Suddenly I had access to all of this beautiful, abundant seafood from some of the cleanest water in the world and I realized that there was a huge disconnect: many people weren’t able to access that,” she shares. “I saw an opportunity to help connect our fishing family directly to home cooks.”

She co-founded Skipper Otto as a means to secure fair prices for local catches and create direct connections with seafood enthusiasts. Skipper Otto is now the highest-ranking B-Corp-certified seafood company in the world, with special recognition for its work in poverty alleviation and local economic development. Further, Strobel established a Local Catch Canada network, which provides support, knowledge sharing and technical assistance for Canadian fishers building robust local food systems.

Central to Skipper Otto’s ethos is supporting small-scale, community-based fishing, which helps to preserve local livelihoods. By offering a direct line to the products from 45 fishing families across B.C., Skipper Otto is not only enabling consumers to access high-quality seafood, they are also contributing to social change and economic stability in coastal and Indigenous communities.

Despite the challenges of building a business that’s different from the norm, Strobel remains eternally optimistic, advocating for policy reforms and collaborative efforts to strengthen local food systems. Her perseverance is an inspiration to other change makers striving for a more equitable and sustainable future. “I don’t think anybody is out to get anybody,” she maintains. “I think certain voices just haven’t been heard.”

Her advice to other change makers? Collaboration. “I want other change makers in B.C. to remember that they’re not alone. There is a large and powerful network of us,” she says.